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This paper reviews “Managerial Behaviors and Job Performance: A Successful Manager in Los Angeles May Not Succeed in Hong Kong” by J. Stewart Black and Lyman W. Porter, which was published in Journal of International Business Studies in 1991. The authors study effectiveness of managerial performance from an international environment perspective.
Black and Porter proposed in their article a research of managerial behavior in international environment. The authors present findings for managers working for large businesses wishing to improve cross-cultural communication skills. They believe that in different countries different managerial strategies should be used. Managers that are going for overseas assignments have to develop their international communicational skills. According to the article, performance, during assignments in other countries, influence effectiveness of managerial work.
In this research, Black and Porter worked on the comparison of managers in the U.S. and Hong Kong. The authors outlined the major differences in the managerial performance. The problem, according to the authors, is in inadequate preparation of employees who are going to work abroad. They discovered that there is a relationship between performance and managerial behaviors during overseas assignments. In the research two schools of thought were used: the cross-cultural school of thought and the practical school of thought. During the research the authors studied American managers working in Hong Kong, Chinese managers working in Hong Kong and American managers that work in the U.S. They find out that performance of expatriate managers was less sufficient than of other two groups. The aim of the research was to study hypotheses of the practical school of thought. During the research the authors found out that the U.S. managers would exhibit the same managerial behaviors in Hong Kong and in America. On the other hand there was a great difference between behaviors of American and Hong Kong managers. In this review some background information and brief summary of the article, literature review, addressing two schools of thought, hypothesis and authors’ prediction, methodology of research, results of the investigation and discussion of the subject are provided.
With the growth of international cooperation in many fields, it is not surprising that the managerial performance and behavior on a global level have attracted attention of scholars. Joynt and Warner point out two perspectives discussing “variance in organizations across different cultures is typically explained. First, the culturist perspective links such variance to differences in belief systems; second, the institutionalist perspective stresses the impact of the institutional environment in which the organization is embedded” (2002, p.15). Harzing & Ruysseveldt (2004) study these two perspectives of international human resource management. Dowling, Festing and Engle characterize international human resource management (HRM) by three broad approaches: cross-cultural management examining human behavior within organizations from an international perspective; comparative industrial HRM relations seeking to describe, comparing and analyzing HRM systems in various countries; HRM in multinational firms (2008, p. 1). Scholars rarely pay enough attention to the practical side of international managerial performance improvement, Lane et al. designed their work “to help develop the knowledge, perspective, and skills that global managers need to function effectively in different cultural environments and to work effectively with people from other cultures” (2006, p. 16). In defense of the cross-cultural management approach managerial ethical practices and propensities across nations were compared (Carroll & Gannon, 1997). Antoniou et al. (2009) studied managerial behavior and occupational health from the point of view of psychology. Toyne & Nigh in their book International Business: an Emerging Vision provided business and society, economic, political, organization theory, organizational behavior, strategic management, marketing, financial perspectives of international business. Lane, DiStefano & Maznevski (2004) suggested focusing on the processes of globalizing in order to grasp all aspects of study. “When we examine the processes companies undertake as they globalize, we lose the sterile statistics and see the people who create and manage the trends. This picture is often less rosy than ones given by macro-level descriptions” (Lane, DiStefano & Maznevski 2004, p. 8). Punnett (2009) focuses on cultural values. In her book the roles of politics and regulations, language and religion, history and geography, and economics and demographics are considered. Adler & Gundersen (2008) suggest that cultural aspects should be implemented in international business to make it successful in today globalized environment. “As we investigate the influence of cultural diversity on multinational and global firms, it becomes clear that national cultural differences are indeed important” (Adler & Gundersen 2008, p. 9). Reviewing the literature on international managerial behavior one can see that most of these researches are focused on theoretical study, and there are very few works that provide practical suggestions on improvement managerial performance effectiveness.
Addressing Two Schools of Thought
The research is relied on two schools of thoughts: the cross-cultural school of thought and the practical school of thought. The hypothesis of the first school argues that a certain managerial behavior would be effective in different cultural surroundings. The authors say: “The managerial behaviors that are related to performance in the U.S. might not be related to performance in Japan or vice versa” (Black & Porter 1991, p.100).
The second school of thought is named “practical”, because most managers who are responsible for selecting personnel for international assignments abide the hypotheses of this school. This hypothesis presupposes that all good managers would perform their duties effectively in different countries and they don’t need any training in cultural acquaintance.
The authors predict that managerial behaviors are different in the U.S. and, for example, in Japan. They claim that managerial performance is much more effective if an employee is acquainted with cultural background of the country and its people’s mentality. Examining the differences in managerial performance across various countries, the authors studied works of several researchers: Haire, Ghiselli & Porter 1963, 1966; Griffeth, Hom, DeNisi & Kirchner 1980; Redding & Casey 1976, Ruben & Kealey 1979. They found out that expatriate employees in Korea who are acquainted with cultural specificity of the country are more successful in their jobs.
While investigating practical school of thought, the authors studied works of Miller 1973, Black 1988; Tung 1981, Negandhi & Prasad 1971. They found that 70% of the U.S. expatriates go on assignments to other countries without any training in culture and traditions of a target country.
Hypothesis and Authors’ Prediction
The research is focused on testing hypotheses that are based on the practical school of thought. Black and Porter stated two hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1: American expatriate managers in overseas assignments will exhibit managerial behaviors similar to American managers in the U.S.
Hypothesis 2: Managerial behaviors which are related to performance in the U.S. will be related to performance overseas (Black & Porter 1991, p. 102).
The researchers tested several groups of managers to determine whether these hypotheses are right or false. The authors tested their predictions with a help of questionnaires, which were mailed to three groups of managers: American expatriate managers, American managers operating in the U.S., Hong Kong Chinese managers in Hong Kong; and evaluation of these questionnaires.
Methodology of Research
Methodology of research consisted of two stages. On the first stage representatives of all three groups of managers were chosen. The first group consisted of American expatriate managers. They were chosen with a help of the registrar of American expatriates in the American Chambers of Commerce in Hong Kong. The research was realized by sending questionnaires to 200 expatriate managers. The second group was formed from managers who studied at the largest west coast university during the last four years. The last group of Hong Kong managers that work in China was formed from managers who graduated from the largest Hong Kong university. The managers of all groups were employees of big, international companies. The percentage of educated males that work in financial industry prevailed in three groups. The scholars noticed that the number of vice presidents among American expatriate managers was higher than among managers that work in the United States. They explained such “inflation” of expatriate vice presidents in Hong Kong by fewer numbers of overseas subsidiaries and/or stimulation of managers to accept overseas assignments by providing them with better positions. All other parameters such as age, education, tenure and gender were the same.
The results of questionnaires were measured with a help of the Leadership Behavior Description Questionnaire (LBDQ) method that was introduced by Stogdill in 1965. With this investigation measure two categories were studied: Initiation of Structure and Consideration.
The first hypothesis stating that managerial behaviors expatriate managers form the U.S. that work in Hong Kong and American managers that work in the U.S. are similar was proved. The conclusions were based on the following indexes: the twelve points of the LBDQ, the canonical correlation coefficient that determine dimensions on which the values are related (0.42), Chi-square indexes (19.3; DF 12; p <.10) and the percentage of correctly classified cases (65.1%). The fact that all these indexes are not high indicates that managerial behaviors of two groups are similar (Black & Porter 1991, p. 104).
The second hypothesis argued the influence of managerial behavior on performance. The researchers found out that performance of the American managers in the U.S. is good – eight dimensions of the LBDQ out of twelve were positive. As for the American expatriate managers in Hong Kong, according to the LBDQ only one dimension was positive. The investigation showed that there is a relation between the level of cultural awareness of managers and their work efficiency, i. e. the stronger is integrative behavior, the higher is the rate of performance (Black & Porter 1991, 104).
The results of the research are useful for future development of managerial performance strategies and policies. These findings are progressive and innovative. They can invert a whole system of managerial performance and top-executive selection procedure applied for overseas assignments and positions. HR officers and CEOs should take into account these factors and provide cultural training for the employees that are working for overseas subsidiaries.
The reviewed article is a thought-out analysis of the international managerial performance effectiveness. It shows that that the research was carried out both from the business and cultural point of view. It enables criticism of previous works in this field, but it lacks the necessary practical approach. It represents a valuable addition to the existing researches in international management.
However, Black and Porter have carried out an important research and provided additional evidences of the necessity of implementation of cultural training for expatriate managers. In spite of the fact that the results of the investigation may have a significant margin of error considering the facts that “American expatriates and Hong Kong Chinese managers are being evaluated by superiors in Hong Kong while the American managers in the U.S. are being evaluated by superiors in the U.S” (Black & Porter 1991, p.110) and “the LBDQ is an appropriate measure of managerial behavior for American managers in the U.S. but is too narrow and limited for American managers outside the U.S. (because it does not measure all cross-culturally relevant managerial behaviors (Black & Porter 1991, p.109), the results of the research can be considered as valuable. This study can become a starting point for the next research that will provide practical manuals in cultural training. It would be reasonable to provide separate works for each country including studies of concrete cases and tasks. Some attempts to describe international managerial behavior by country were made by Joynt and Warner. They studied Anglo-Brasilian comparison of managerial decision-making, cross-cultural dimensions of managing in Asia, implementing China’s people-managing reforms, the Japanese employment model and South African management (Joynt & Warner 2002). Dowling, Festing and Engle provided research on international training process and development as well, but still the problem of multicultural management remains unresolved and requires further investigations.